Pasko na!!!

10 12 2009

It’s Christmas!

Well, almost…

It’s Christmas season again! The whole year went by sooo fast, especially this semester. I just got back here four months ago, fresh from home, the hot and humid feeling was still there. And now, four months later, I’m going home again. I can’t wait. I can’t take the cold anymore!

But the best part about going home is that I get to spend Christmas with my family, which, in all possible ways, is so much different from how Christmas is celebrated here in the US.

Christmas is a major deal in the Filipino culture. Some people start playing Christmas songs as early as September, or as we call it, the start of the –ber months. After the first week of November, families start putting up their Christmas decors. I guess that’s not really a big difference from here. But what’s different back home is that people have this really bright star lanterns, or parol. Most parols are hand-crafted, while some are really really complicated. I myself made a couple of parols when I was in elementary school. I think Prof Jay’s class, Filipino Culture and Society, also makes parols to give students a first-hand experience of how it is made. Kasamahan also hosts Parol-making workshops open for everyone. It feels really nice to see people here advocating the Filipino culture.

But Christmas in the Philippines doesn’t just differ from any Christmas in the world with their parols. The actual celebration of Christmas starts on the 24th of December, where relatives go to one designated house that will host the Noche Buena, or the Christmas Eve celebration. During the whole day of the 24th, the kitchen would be the busiest place in the house. It’s the best part too, since everything smells sooo good. The usual must-haves during Noche Buena include: Queso de bola, Ham with honey and pineapples, and of course, Filipino dishes that are the best! Sadly though, you have to wait until around 10pm, when everyone is back from attending the Holy Mass. Late dinner, good food, fun people, that’s how the night goes. At the strike of 12 midnight, everyone goes around the room, gives each other “Merry Christmas!”-greetings, along with a hug or kiss, or handshake. This is the most exciting part for the kids, too. Because at 12midnight, they get to open their presents, which, depending on the “clan size”, can be tons of gifts. Also, in my family, it’s become a tradition to fall in line in front of my grandparents while they hand out money to everyone. After this, everyone just relaxes for maybe another half an hour,and then people start to leave.

The following day, families would then go to the other side of the family’s Christmas celebration. More gifts, more food, more fun people. Parents bring their children to relatives, or to ninongs and ninangs (godparents) so they can get more presents and/or money. The whole day goes like this, then back to relaxing at home and cleaning up after two days of fun-filled celebration.

I probably wasn’t able to impress you guys with whatever I said about how Filipinos celebrate Christmas, but seriously, if you could all have a first-hand experience of this, I can’t think of any reason why this wouldn’t be your favorite Holiday, if it’s not yet your favorite. As for me, I’m so counting down the days before I get to go home and actually feel the Christmas spirit that I haven’t really felt yet, thanks to finals week.

-Z. Santos

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